It was tough in the rough

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QUES­TION Why was the 1974 U.S. Open known as The Mas­sacre at Winged Foot? THE Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, is home to two gi­gan­tic 18-hole golf cour­ses of 7,200-plus yard (more than 1,000 yards longer than a stan­dard course), de­signed by A. W. Tillinghast. They are two of the most dif­fi­cult golf cour­ses in the world.

The set-up of the West Course for the 1974 U.S. Open was the tough­est ever seen in a ma­jor cham­pi­onship. It more than ad­hered to the U.S. Golf As­so­ci­a­tion phi­los­o­phy of nar­row fair­ways, high rough, tough pin place­ments and firm, slop­ing, light­ning-fast greens.

The play­ers knew they were in for a hard time when the great Jack Nick­laus, who was in his prime, had a 25ft birdie putt above the hole in the first round. He ran it nearly 30ft by the cup and wound up with a three-putt bo­gey that set the tone for the week.

Asked about the fin­ish­ing holes of the West Course, Nick­laus quipped: ‘The last 18 are very dif­fi­cult.’

There were com­plaints about the con­di­tions and ac­cu­sa­tions that the U.S. Golf As­so­ci­a­tion was try­ing to em­bar­rass play­ers. Club chair­man Sandy Ta­tum’s re­ply was: ‘We’re not try­ing to em­bar­rass the best play­ers in the world. We’re try­ing to iden­tify them.’

The tour­na­ment was won by three-time U.S. Open win­ner Hale Ir­win. To ap­pre­ci­ate the de­gree of dif­fi­culty, Ir­win was the last player to win a U.S. Open with­out break­ing par in any of the four rounds. He fin­ished seven over par. Other golfers were fin­ish­ing with scores of 30 over par, hence the me­dia dubbed it a ‘mas­sacre’.

Ir­win, a for­mer de­fen­sive back for the Uni­ver­sity of Colorado foot­ball team, said later: ‘Part of my suc­cess that week came from my foot­ball back­ground. I just put my nose to the grind­stone and toughed it out a lit­tle bit more than the other play­ers. I cer­tainly didn’t play bet­ter.’

The U.S. Open, held at the same course in 2006, be­came known as the ‘Mas­sacre At Winged Foot Mk II’. Again, there was some very high scor­ing and some mem­o­rable col­lapses in the fi­nal round.

Most no­table were Phil Mick­el­son, who en­tered the fi­nal three holes with a two-shot lead but bo­geyed the 16th and dou­ble­bo­geyed the 18th, and Colin Mont­gomerie, who suf­fered the heart­break of dou­ble-bo­gey­ing the fi­nal hole to al­low Aus­tralia’s Geoff Ogilvy to win by a shot, fin­ish­ing with a to­tal of five over par.

A. McDon­ald, St An­drews, Fife. QUES­TION Dur­ing World War II, U.S. Forces went from is­land to is­land evict­ing the Ja­panese. Did Bri­tish Forces lib­er­ate any of these is­lands? FOL­LOW­ING t he Bat­tle of Mid­way (June 1942), U.S. forces

Com­piled by Charles Legge launched a counter-of­fen­sive strike known as ‘is­land-hop­ping’ to es­tab­lish a line of over­lap­ping is­land bases, as well as air con­trol, with the even­tual aim of at­tack­ing the Ja­panese main­land.

The idea was to neu­tralise heav­ily for­ti­fied Ja­panese po­si­tions by sim­ply avoid­ing them and con­cen­trat­ing the limited Al­lied re­sources on strate­gi­cally im­por­tant is­lands that were not well de­fended, but were ca­pa­ble of sup­port­ing the drive into Ja­pan.

A force led by Ad­mi­ral Ch­ester Nimitz, with a smaller land force and larger fleet, ad­vanced north to­wards Ja­pan, cap­tur­ing the Gil­bert and Mar­shall Is­lands and the Mar­i­anas, gen­er­ally in the di­rec­tion of the Bonin Is­lands.

A south­ern prong, led by Gen­eral MacArthur with a larger land force, took the Solomons, New Guinea and the Bis­marck Ar­chi­pel­ago, ad­vanc­ing to­ward the Philip­pines.

While the U.S. was lib­er­at­ing Bri­tish territories in the Pa­cific and ex­tend­ing its in­flu­ence, it be­came a po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary im­per­a­tive to re­store a Bri­tish pres­ence in the re­gion and to de­ploy Bri­tish mil­i­tary as­sets di­rectly against Ja­pan. The Bri­tish govern­ment was de­ter­mined that its territories, such as Hong Kong, should be re­cap­tured by Bri­tish forces. Thus The Bri­tish Pa­cific Fleet (BPF), a Com­mon­wealth Naval force of Bri­tish, Aus­tralian, Cana­dian and New Zealand ships, was formed in mid-1944.

The fleet was ini­tially in­volved in Op­er­a­tion Merid­ian, air strikes in Jan­uary 1945 against oil pro­duc­tion at Palem­bang, Su­ma­tra. The forces were only in­volved in the lat­ter, but most bloody, stages of the is­land-hop­ping cam­paign. Dur­ing March 1945, while s up­port­ing t he i nva­sion of Ok­i­nawa, the BPF had sole re­spon­si­bil­ity f or op­er­a­tions i n the Sak­ishima Is­lands. Its role was to sup­press Ja­panese air ac­tiv­ity at po­ten­tial Kamikaze-stag­ing air­fields that would oth­er­wise be a threat to U.S. navy ves­sels op­er­at­ing at Ok­i­nawa.

The car­ri­ers were sub­ject to heavy and re­peated kamikaze attacks, but be­cause of their ar­moured flight decks, Bri­tish air­craft car­ri­ers proved highly re­sis­tant — un­like their U.S. coun­ter­parts — and re­turned to ac­tion rel­a­tively quickly.

In the end, Hong Kong was not re­lieved by the Bri­tish but sur­ren­dered fol­low­ing the atomic bomb.

Of course, the BPF was not the only Bri­tish force sta­tioned in the Pa­cific the­atre. A great deal of credit should also go to the Bri­tish 14th Army ( some­times called ‘the for­got­ten army’) for the re­lief of Burma.

John Hol­land, Skegness, Lincs. QUES­TION What be­came of Peter Marinello, once hailed as the next Ge­orge Best, who joined Arse­nal from Hibs for £100,000? FUR­THER to the ear­lier an­swer, I was in­tro­duced to Peter Marinello by his cousin in 1970, and Peter had re­cently been trans­ferred from Hiber­nian to Arse­nal for the then record fee of £100,000.

Al­though he played for the ‘other team’ in North London (I was and still am a fer­vent Tot­ten­ham sup­porter), I found him to be an ar­tic­u­late, well-spo­ken, well-man­nered lad with ab­so­lutely no ‘su­per­star’ traits, and we spent some good times chat­ting about foot­ball and life, meet­ing for a drink (or three).

I was play­ing cricket for the Old Boys of Christ’s Col­lege School in Finch­ley, North London ( alma mater to such lu­mi­nar­ies as Har­vey Goldsmith and Charles Saatchi), and i nvited Peter to present the prizes at the Old Boys’ sum­mer fete.

Not only did he ac­cept with great en­thu­si­asm, but he also spent the whole af­ter­noon de­light­ing the spec­ta­tors by join­ing in cer­tain events, chat­ting to fans, sign­ing au­to­graphs and con­tribut­ing in no small way to a most suc­cess­ful day. ‘Ap­pear­ance money’ was never dis­cussed. In fact, Peter went home with far less money than when he ar­rived.

I was sad to hear of the down­ward spi­ral that he suf­fered, but I am so glad that he has man­aged to turn his life around and do wish him well for the fu­ture.

Stephen Lang­ham, Wimborne St Giles, Dorset.

As­sault course: Hale Ir­win cel­e­brates his 1974 U.S. Open win

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